Marseille is France’s second biggest city. It’s known for its port and fishing area. With over 1500 years of history, Marseille is a vibrant and interesting city. Traditionally, it has always been a little rough around the edges (as many port cities are)! But the edge has definitely lent itself to creating an eclectic and exciting spirit.
I had the chance the visit Marseille and can’t deny its unique charm and beauty. Here’s what you shouldn’t miss when you visit Marseille. Read More
After dusk, the volume of tourists dies down, a cool breeze settles in, and the street light go on. You’ll feel that you have the city to yourself.
There is no better time to experience Paris than at night. Watch this video to join me on a Paris at night tour with Discover Walks. My Parisian tour guide Oleg was amazing. He had lots of energy and funny stories to tell. He also revealed lots of secrets I hadn’t know before, despite having been to Paris a few times in the past already. Check out their site if you’re interested in doing the same tour.
Our guide, Oleg, taking us on a Paris at night tour.
Paris, la ville lumière
Paris earned its reputation as la ville lumière (city of light) because it was one of the first to have street lamps. So it makes sense that one of the best times to enjoy it is when the sun sets and the lamps turn on.
Paris’s reputation as la ville lumière also comes from its leading role during the Age of Enlightenment. But the bit about the lamps is interesting!
The Louvre illuminated at night.
You can enjoy the romantic city lights around the Académie française, Louvre palace and along the Seine river, such as on Pont des arts and its other bridges.
By the way: attaching a lock to Pont des Arts is not a Parisian tradition!
The locks weighing down Pont des arts.
Pont des Arts (Bridge of the Arts) become a symbol of romance with hundreds if not thousands of locks mounted on its rails. So what’s the point of the locks?
“Aiaiai. You tell me,” says Oleg sounding exasperated. The idea is that if you are a couple walking across the bridge, you attach a lock and throw the key into the Seine river as a symbol of your undying love. But Oleg, like other Paris locals, says he is frustrated with it. Just a few years ago he remembers picnicking on the bridge without a single lock in sight.
“Zero locks!” he emphasizes.
Its a recent tradition created by tourists – not a local habit. The city is at a loss for what to do. The locks are weighing the bridge down and if a lock or a piece of the bridge falls on the head of a tourist on one of the Seine cruises, there could be not-so romantic injuries and lawsuits.
**Exclusive tip from Oleg: “If you don’t love anybody get the one with a code so you can unlock it.”
This hologram lady with a beard is one of the art installations we came across while exploring the left bank.
Even Oleg wasn’t expecting this art experiment. A hologram lady dressed in a leopard-print body suit greeted us in one of the gallery windows. We were watching her closely, trying to figure out the message of the installation when suddenly a beard appeared on her face. Then we were really confused.
After the bearded hologram lady, we head into a parking lot to see an ancient wall. In Europe it’s common for Roman ruins to be uncovered while digging into the ground to build parking lots or buildings, but I have to admit I would never have thought of going down there.
Heading into an underground parking lot to spot some ruins.
Paris Street Art
Did you know that the undercover artist who started the space invaders street trend is French? He has added the icon to streets around Paris and the trend has spread internationally.
An example of a plaster street art creation by artist Gregos.
Another artist by the name of Gregos has taken to creating plaster masks that he paints and sticks to random walls. People find them so amusing that some even rip them off and take them home.
The Left Bank and Saint-Germain-des-Prés
This is one of the best areas for people watching. It has fun, food and live entertainment. Drinks and food aren’t cheap, but it’s an ambiance that’s worth paying for. As you walk along, you might get the feeling that people are staring at you. That’s because they are. Just stare back!
People watching (staring) at a café in Paris.
“When someone says they live on the left bank they’re trying to tell you something,” says Oleg.
That is where the artists and writers have always lived. At night, it thrives with activity. While walking around, we spotted a number of restaurants and cafés with clientèle that looked so chic it was intimidating (particularly because they stared at us as we walked past).
We overheard a mother tell her children she was planning on buying them a book by Molière. And we were invited into a vernissage by a man wearing a fancy hat smoking outside an art gallery.
Anywhere else we might call these people posers. But here they are the real deal. They really do grow up reading Molière and going to vernissages to discuss the meaning of art and then debate existentialism vs humanism over a glass of vin rouge. And this is why you can’t not love Paris.
Parisian girl making some cat noises at a café in Saint-Germain-des -Près.
Interrogating French boys about just how many baguettes they eat in a day.
The Eiffel Tower isn’t as tall as modern skyscrapers, but remains one of the world’s most recognizable landmarks. It’s even hailed as one of the seven wonders of the modern world. Seven million visitors a year can’t be wrong!
The Eiffel Tower’s proud of its rustic look
History of the Eiffel Tower
As we make our way up the tower, here’s a bit of history. Eiffel is the last name of the engineer, Gustave Eiffel, who owned the company that built and designed the tower. Two of his bright and creative interns originally came up with the design, but at the time there was no purpose for the tower and no way for it to generate income, so the plans were put aside. The next year, in 1884, France announced it would hold the 1889 World’s Fair, a centennial celebration of the French Revolution, the Exposition Universelle. They wanted an iconic structure to stand alongside the exhibition halls. With that announcement in mind, Eiffel took out the interns’ design. A few amendments to the design and a few changes to the contest rules later, the tower was built.
After the fair, it never came down.
The Eiffel tower has three levels tourists can visit. The first and second levels have restaurant areas, while the third actually has a champagne bar.
Unfortunately, my friend Sara only conquered her fear of heights up to the second floor. Then she happily made her way to the bottom while I ventured up to the final level.
If you want to be more adventurous and test your fear of heights, the third level is waiting for you. There is an observatory platform that is 276 meters above the ground (906 ft). There is also a higher platform, but most of the time it is not accessible to the public.
If you are the type of tourist who is always looking to break a sweat, you will love taking the 300 steps hike towards the first level. There are another 300 steps to make it to the second. Although the third level is technically accessible by stairs, they are often closed to the public, in which case you have to use the lift.
Our friendly City Wonders tour guide knew a lot about Paris’s history
Thanks to a tour with City Wonders I was able to skip the lines at the bottom while visiting the Eiffel tower and got a lot of valuable information about the tower’s history and the rest of Paris. Plus the tour guide was super friendly. Check out their site if you are interested in joining one of their tours.
Argentière is a village near Chamonix in the French Alps. Its amazing view has lured tourists to try out skiing, alpine walking and mountaineering. Of course, the most popular activity is skiing during winter. But I have to tell you, summer hiking is just as rewarding. If you want proof, then check out my video.
Note: You can say that we were a bit under-dressed for the whole trip. Nevertheless, there were no broken bones and we had a lot of fun! Read More